If there is a message in the redundancy announcements of the last week it is, “do not rely on your employer to provide you with a future”.
I’m not just talking about the obvious; that there are no jobs for life. No, I mean it is totally on you to stay relevant. Employers will only ever provide development that helps the organisation at a particular point in time.
Nothing wrong with that. They can’t afford to do anything else. I still recommend people try and get an employer to pay for professional development. It is better for your bank balance and your employer will hopefully promote you as a way of getting a return on its investment.
Over the last 20 years big business has been allowed to walk away from any responsibility it once had to train young Australians. The current business model for skills development is to invest nothing, and then insist that the cost of training be socialised.
When the shortcomings of this system become apparent the solution pushed is the importation of malleable, underpaid 457 workers from overseas. And make no mistake about it, 457 visa workers are paid less than locals.
The natural end game, of course, is a Gulf States-style permanent underclass of temporary, low-paid workers to put constant downward pressure on wages. It may seem like a long way off now, but who would seriously doubt that the likes of Gina ‘Special Economic Zones’ Rinehart would baulk at such a push?
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Where did we Australians get this idea that 50 is old, too old, over the hill? Since becoming Age Discrimination Commissioner, I have been asked this question many times. I can’t answer it.
But we have to find an answer. We have to get rid of this damaging idea. Because of it, too many people are being forced out of their jobs when they have barely turned 50. When they apply for a new job, they are often ignored, or fobbed off with excuses like, “You are overqualified”, or “We are looking for someone with lots of energy”! This fob-off is not only insulting, not only damaging to the well-qualified, motivated mature worker, it leads him or her on the downward path to poverty in old age.
If sustained, these experiences can lead to depression. After all, everyone needs to feel useful, to get recognition for a job well done. We all enjoy the company of fellow workers, and most of us need to earn money and grow our super, well into our 60’s and beyond. If all this is denied us, just because of prejudice, we suffer. And, tragic as it is, this is not just about the waste of individuals.
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